Saturday, October 28, 2017

Tap Tap Tap

Blow-Blow - this thing on?

Well howdy! Long time no blog! Partly because the night of my last post, everyone but me went down with the flu, (and no one ever fully recovered before we got hit with something else, wash rinse repeat until Spring and we could be outside and have the windows open), and mostly because life has been busy. I'm in the home stretch of finally, finally completely cleaning and organizing the basement. Honestly, if I wasn't waiting for the soup to come to a simmer, I wouldn't even be posting right now, because I'm that close to being done (hallelujah!). Between January and now, I hosted two 100+ in attendance funeral dinners at our church in less than a month, helped with VBS, had a crappy garden, took my twelve year old to State Fair, husband was laid off several times, homeschooling all 5 of the kids, you get the idea. Blogging has been laid aside for the foreseeable future. But. I AM on Instagram. Actually, IG is like the new blogging for me. Blurbs here and there, no pressure to have some brilliantly informative post, quick because I can do it from my phone (could never get anything to post on my blog from my phone) instead of loading pictures from my camera, fighting with the format, etc. etc.
Anyway, come visit me there if you'd like.

Signing off~

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Versatile French Bread Recipe

My ideal would be that all of my bread is either from fresh ground flour, or a soaked wheat recipe for optimal nutrition. Truth is that I don't have a grain mill, and soaked bread takes 2 days and I'm really good at forgetting to start it. I don't remember exactly where I got this recipe, but it is perfect for when I need bread quickly, as it can be made from start to finish in about 2 hours, minus cooling. I use it for sandwiches, toast, garlic bread, cinnamon bread for French toast, and buns. I've also placed with it at our county fair when I've entered it. If you've not made bread before, this is a great one to start with.  (and my apologies for the bad photos, it took me 5 different bakings to get them all. winter lighting.)
Versatile French Bread Recipe

2 c. hot water (I use hot tap water)
2 Tbsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. oil (I use light olive)
2 tsp. salt 
5 c. all purpose flour OR 3 cups all purpose, 2 cups whole wheat (You may have to play around to get the texture you like doing the flour combo)

Combine the first 5 ingredients and let rest until foamy, 5-10 minutes.

Add flour and mix/knead until the sides of the bowl are clean, about 5 minutes. Some days, I need to add a little extra flour because my dough is sticky.

Cover and let rise until double. I usually leave it in my mixing bowl for this step, but you can transfer to a lightly oiled bowl.

Punch down and cut dough in half. Roll dough out into a rectangle and then roll into a loaf shape starting at the short end.

Tuck ends under.

Transfer to a thoroughly greased cookie sheet and cut 3 diagonal slashes into the top.

Cover and let rise until doubled again. Most of the time, this only takes about 20 minutes, but it can take up to an hour sometimes as well. Just keep an eye on it. When you start this rising period, turn your oven on to begin heating at 400. Just before putting the loaves into the oven, beat together 1 egg and 2 tablespoons of milk, then carefully brush all over the loaves. (I usually put the leftover egg wash in the freezer for the next time)
Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, remove from cookie sheet and cool on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves.
If you choose to make buns, just take a piece of dough, roll into a ball and flatten slightly. Continue with slashing, rising and egg wash steps. Check the buns after 10 minutes and bake until golden.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Little House Day

I had everyone ready to head out the door to go grocery shopping since the rain had finally stopped, when the sky turned black, the heavens re-opened and we're in the midst of a January thunderstorm. It's also in the fifties and smells like spring. In January. You gardeners can relate to that torture I'm sure. So, I let the kids watch something (which never happens in the middle of the day. ever.), grabbed my trusty cup of coffee, and decided to tell you about the Little House Day I hosted on a sweltering day last July. (also, here is the link to the one I had a number of years ago)

(My friend Sharon took all the pictures, I just swiped them for this post.)
We had 15 kids and 4 moms, including me. I made a cd of fiddle music featuring all the songs I could find from the books. This was played on repeat as background music. (I had hoped to send a copy of the cd home with everyone, but I could only get 1 cd to copy.) We started with everyone gathered at the table, and I had a script of sorts that I wrote out to keep me on track (script is at the bottom of this post)

Using our yard as an example, we talked about why or why not this would make a good homestead site, both as looking for a place to settle, or as an established one.

Then we moved on to the garden, where we conveniently grow a lot of "period correct" vegetables. 

we talked about how companion planting works and why it can be important

and about eating seasonally and how they would have preserved the harvest.

then we trekked over to the herb garden

nope, no period dressing for me
there we discussed medicinal and culinary herbs, and tasted some of the herbs I have growing
the kids favorite were the chocolate and pineapple mint

back at the table, we also discussed foraging, hunting and fishing, animals raised for food

and the goods that made more sense to buy instead of grow 

then we made butter
I had 3 or 4 jars of raw cream from our milk share that I had been hoarding,
and everyone had a chance to churn

the buttermilk was saved for our cornbread

At this point, I went in to start warming up lunch

A. had to give a presentation as part of her 4-H project

So she went over sewing basket basics
(she was also in the early stages of poison sumac and had fallen off her bike a few days before hand. poor girl looked like she'd lost a fight)

then everyone visited the chicken coop

the chickens did NOT oblige us and there were only 3 eggs

 A. just put them back in the nest boxes so each group could find them

I printed up pictures of a deer and of a bear and taped these to boxes for targets

Sharon had some rubber band guns, and I converted a toy gun of ours and the boys had an absolute blast shooting

the girls had fun playing "Graces"- tossing the hoop back and forth with the sticks

and of course, the swing set

I bought and rendered down beef fat (because I'm crazy like that) for dipping candles

It did not work. my suspicions are A.) it was entirely too hot out, and B.) that the fat now is not as the fat then.  But the big girls had fun trying.

Lunch: the main food was bread, cheese, hardboiled eggs, and apples. This meal is often mentioned in all the Little House books, so I thought it would be a good base

I made several loaves of a round rustic bread, I also made the cheese on the green and white plate, which the kids loved

We also had lots of samples, because half the fun of anything is the eating

Cornbread (from the Little House Cookbook)

Baked Beans (also LH cookbook)

I found a package of smoked trout at the grocery store reduced for quick sale, Pa smoked a lot of fish, so this worked nicely

I had *one* package of venison left, not enough to make a meal for us, but perfect for sampling
I cooked it in bacon drippings and it was fantastic

Smoked bacon

Salt pork which is an absolute pain to cut and prepare but so so good
(prepared per LH cookbook instructions)

Sharon's family does a lot of reenacting, so she brought along her dishes

that great big picnic table and all the littles crowded here

the big girls picked the quilt, and the big boys all sat up in the swing set house

afterwards, they washed the dishes

the final activities were paper quilt blocks for the girls and little boys

and tin punching for the big boys

I bought 2 disposable cookie sheets at the dollar store and cut them to the right size. When they were done, I glued them to canning jar lids to make a lantern. (the tape is just holding it while it dried)

Sharon brought a variety of period toys, and this climbing bear was the favorite

I set up an awning for extra shade, but also to show just how cramped things would have been in some of those cabins (tables from Sharon's reenacting stash)

R. needed a prairie dress, so I made her one. I won Best of Show at the fair with it!

I made a basket of goodies for each family as well.
And by made a basket, I mean I made the baskets.

A rag doll for each of the little girls

Tops for the big boys (paper circles with a bamboo skewer poked through the center), the chicken toy (slides back and forth like they're pecking) for the little boys
the thaumatrope, a flower press for the big girls

The doll is stitched as one piece, with a removable elastic skirt. These were such fun to make!

I even gave then bloomers

Candy ( I would have bought period candy, but there are some dietary restrictions among the children, so I just made a few things) Honey Cinnamon Suckers, and Maple Sugar Candy. I hate maple sugar candy (too sweet), but the stuff I made was really good.
                   I also included Plantain salve, Dandelion Salve, and Jewel Weed Salve, and a list of Laura's favorite Bible verses.

My script was written late at night (and not the greatest writing at that), and is not necessarily in order of how we did things.
But it kept me from a lot of "um's" and on trackish. (Click to enlarge for reading.)

It was a LOT of work, but I had a lot of fun researching and putting it together. Here'e a link to my Pinterest board where I collected some ideas. I have people begging to come to the next one I do, but I have no idea when and if that will be.